Employee Engagement: Transactional vs Emotional (No one ever washes a rental car)
Does it really matter if employees are genuinely engaged as long as they behave as if they are? This article gets all up in your grill on this topic. It back-refers to a previous article on how some employees, when surveyed about their engagement, might say what they think their bosses want to hear. One reader’s comment summed it all up nicely, “No one ever got a pig fat by weighing it.”
What I’m choosing to believe he meant by that remark was that engagement surveys are not how you engage people. A set of scales will definitely tell you the progress of fattening a pig. An engagement survey might tell the progress of engaging your people at work. And IF it does, that’s about all it does. And, as I’ve said before, most employees work for small employers who don’t have HR departments and tend not to be able to afford soft consultants. Engagement is important because it enhances performance and profitability. Obviously, some form of measurement and tracking would be helpful. Walking around and purposefully observing might be more useful and timely for the majority of employers.
I’m probably over-simplifying things when I say that when it comes to people at work, you cannot over-simplify things. By all means, have your HR departments pay consultants for surveys so you can tick a box that says you’re managing the engagement levels of your people at work. You might also be ticking boxes on workplace safety because you’re identifying risks and filing forms. BUT until everyone is emotionally committed to safety…
In my simple way, I like to stick to any definition of employee engagement that includes “discretionary activity.” People doing things at work that they don’t have to because they choose to. I don’t especially care if they’re happy or if they consider themselves to be whatever they mean by engaged. Don’t care. Well, maybe the world might be a more pleasant place if everyone was happy and thought they were engaged at work but that hasn’t been directly proven to be related to productivity and profitability in the same way that employee engagement in the discretionary activity sense has been.
The other quote I liked, again from a commenter and not the article, referred to how some employers treat employees in ways unlikely to support a culture of engagement. The quote was, “Nobody Ever Washes a Rental Car.” (Hint: The employee is the car…)